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Surfacing Artist

The surfacing artist adds texture and colour to characters, environments and CG accessories in an animated function, in order to enhance their visual appeal based on the design style defined by the artistic director, the production designer and the film director.

professional quote

ESMA students are among the profiles we are interested in. It is a school that has had its place for ten years among the best French schools.

Sébastien Chort
CG Supervisor, Blur

professional quote

The qualities of ESMA are the qualities of a very high level school. That a short film from ESMA is selected for the Oscars is well deserved!

Kristof Serrand,
Directeur Artistique, Dreamworks

Sébastien Chort
Kristof Serrand


After the modelling phase, the surfacing artist takes the lead (definition of materials, textures that will cover a 3D volume), before the lighting and the final rendering phase.

The surfacing artist is responsible for complex and technically demanding surfacing configurations. In a way, he digitally “paints” with complex equations and specialized software.

He works closely with the modelling and the lighting departments to ensure surfacing needs to be met in parallel with the needs of other departments.

Of course, surfacing artists interact with their mouse and screen.


The surfacing artist obviously masters specialized software (Body Paint, Maya, Renderman, Zbrush, Mudbox, Photoshop…)
Being a surfacing artist requires creativity, open-mindedness, a good eye for design elements such as details, scale, composition, colour and shape.

He must produce consistent, high-quality work while maintaining a steady flow of assignments and meeting strict deadlines. He creates different visual styles according to the requirements.

Knowledge of modelling and lighting / shading is an asset, as the surfacing artist works together with the production team and respects the setting up of the pipeline necessary for the smooth production of an animated film.

Becoming surfacing artist
Surfacing artists interact with their mouse and screen.

This induces a good relationship between the people involved in the project, to lead to efficient and effective work.

Thus, the surfacing artist must collaborate with lighting and shading artists, as well as with look development artists, in order to create many aspects and texture styles.

Generally, strong interpersonal skills, organizational skills, time management skills, and the ability to be independent in problem solving are key assets in this specialization.


Surfacing artists are in demand. They most often work in animation studios. They may also have the opportunity to work with independent studios.

After a few years of experience, the surfacing artist may consider moving into positions of greater responsibility such as supervisor or other management positions within the VFX department.